Why “Breath of the Wild” Disappointed Me

Disclaimer: This article will express an unpopular opinion on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. If you cannot handle negative criticism of a universally beloved game, I would suggest that you stop reading right now.

I’ll begin this article by saying that I do not hate Breath of the Wild. Rather, I dislike it enough that I couldn’t possibly force myself to play it any longer.

I wanted to like the newest Zelda game, but it’s plagued by so many problems that it was impossible to justify my $385 purchase on the Switch. So what did I do? I put an ad out on Craigslist for it, and I sold that sucker for $350. I figured that despite taking the $35 dollar loss, I at least squeezed enough time out of the game to develop a solid opinion of it.

It’s difficult to fathom BotW’s overwhelmingly positive reception. Multiple esteemed critics gave the game perfect or near-perfect reviews, regarding it as a staple of the open world RPG genre, a game with few to no flaws, and even “one of the greatest games of all time.” And while BotW was initially a 9 out of 10 for me, after about 15 hours of play, it dropped down to an 8 and then a 7 out of 10. As such, these next several paragraphs will discuss exactly where (in my opinion) the game goes wrong.

My complaints begin with the lack of sufficient voice acting, which is absolutely inexcusable. Most of the dialogue you will need to read in a text box while characters grunt and moan at you. The voice acting that is present in the game is either subpar at best or cringe-inducing at worst, with actors dispassionately reading their lines like middle school students in a play. I understand that Zelda games aren’t known for impeccable voice acting because until now, they were entirely devoid of it. But this is 2017—open world RPGs of this caliber are supposed to come fully voice acted. Why is it that whenever I’m talking to one of the main characters, for instance the former King of Hyrule or Lady Urbosa, I have to switch from listening to their lines to reading their lines? It completely breaks the immersion factor.

In addition, while expansive and beautiful, the game’s open world is severely lacking in depth. You could spend hours traversing the map without ever encountering an interesting side-quest, activity, or character, as its landscapes consist largely of empty space that stretches on for miles. I always say that a gargantuan open world map means nothing if it consistently lacks compelling incentives to venture off the beaten path. There are, of course, a fair amount of shrines and towers you can unlock as fast travel points, but they pale in comparison to Skyrim’s multitude of caves, dungeons, tombs, camps, and outposts. Besides, each region contains 4 to 8 shrines that sit out in the open, while the rest remain annoyingly hidden. This leads to my third complaint.

The game is overly repetitive. Shrines can be summed up with, “Walk in, solve a puzzle, take a spirit orb. Walk in, solve a puzzle, take a spirit orb,” and there’s nothing more to it than that. Stables are cut and pasted, enemy diversity is finite, and towers are just an excuse to halt progress and artificially inflate play time. Even the game’s own main story fails to add diversity, as the quest, “Captured Memories” has you traveling to 12 destinations scattered around the map just to watch 2 minute cutscenes.  Furthermore, while I have not played through any of the Divine Beasts yet, from what I’ve heard, they are simply glorified shrines that do not measure up to previous entries’ elemental temples.

By the way, what is up with that score? There are perhaps 2 or 3, 30 second tracks that play during your travels in the wilderness. Compare this to Ori and the Blind Forest (2015) or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011), two of my most beloved games. Skyrim plays over 80 minutes worth of atmospheric music during your journey, while Ori plays a different track in every level. As a diehard fan of open world RPGs, music is essential for sustaining immersion, and BotW’s lack of a satisfactory soundtrack only degrades its quality further.

Side note: The weapon breaking mechanic is a minor complaint of mine. I can understand people’s frustration with it, but for the most part, it didn’t bother me too much because I always had 5 to 7 weapons in my inventory.

My final complaint is the game’s lightly padded, generic story. Yet again, we are treated to an end-of-the-world trope where a princess needs saving and a fallen hero rises up to defeat an ancient evil. How many times has this story been told exactly? The main premise is that 100 years ago, an event took place known as the Great Calamity that devastated the Kingdom of Hyrule. Link must therefore regain his power to save Princess Zelda and defeat Calamity Ganon once and for all, and characters will repeat this exposition some 5, 10, or 15 times. Though, I lost count.

Overall, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a good game, but it is not an amazing game. It does not redefine the action open world RPG genre in any capacity, and it is certainly not the “quintessential system seller” that reviewers fooled me into believing.

If I had to give the game a final rating, it would have to be a 7/10 (which essentially equates to a great time-killer) and an 8/10 if I was being generous. Nonetheless, I hope that you were able to derive more enjoyment from it than I did. It still has its fair share of redeeming qualities, such as its slick and satisfying combat mechanics, ultra realistic physics engine, and wonderfully crafted puzzle shrines. But unfortunately for me, this entry into the Zelda franchise did not cut it, and I’m so glad that I got most of my money back.

I guess my bar for action-oriented open world RPGs has been set too high. I’ll stick to Skyrim and Witcher.

Should Flag Burning Be Outlawed?

I once asked three of my more left-leaning friends how they feel about burning the American flag. My argument was that there is a fine line in free speech that shouldn’t be crossed, while theirs was that no matter how unsettling, it is ultimately a right that should remain protected by the First Amendment. In any case, the legal status of flag burning is a hotly contested issue that only creates division and discord in our communities, so what should be done about it?

Flag burning has been brought into question numerous times before. President Trump was not quiet on the issue, once writing in a post on Twitter that flag burners should be punished by revoking their citizenship or spending up to a year in jail. In 2005, Hillary Clinton cosponsored the Flag Protection Act, which would have in theory made flag burning illegal nationwide.

The way I see it, the burning of the American flag is an act of extreme depravity that should be condemned by anyone, not just the law. Whether you realize it or not, the flag harbors a vast meaning that’s difficult to grasp by most people. When burned, it communicates that you do not care about your country, and disregards the millions of people who have fought and died for the rights and liberties that you, the offender, are benefitting from. Though it is an extension of free speech that is “technically” protected by Amendment I of the Constitution, its implications are much deeper than protesting the government or voicing outrage.

But let’s say that isn’t your intention. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you’re burning the American flag because you’re upset with the way the country is being run, so you’re providing a commentary on government ineptitude. Perhaps you’re even upset with the results of this past election. In either or those cases, isn’t there a better approach to take? Isn’t there another, more intelligent and eloquent way that you could deliver your message without directing your hate toward your own country? Because regardless of your intention, the act of flag burning is intrinsically a display of hatred towards one’s own country. It’s that simple.

So yes, in this one man’s honest opinion, flag burning should be outlawed because there are limits to free speech, such as incitements of violence to meet political ends, false statements of fact, and claiming another’s speech as one’s own (i.e., plagiarism). The disregard and desecration of the memories of our fallen heroes should fall under this category. At the very least, those who perform the act of flag burning should incur a minute penalty and at most, a complete revoke of citizenship and jail time.

Because there are only two arguments to the issue of flag burning (you either believe it should be outlawed or not), you might disagree with me. If so, why do you believe it should remain legal, other than because it’s protected by the First Amendment?

7 Study Habits That Guarantee Perfect Grades

Who else is familiar with that feeling of skimming through the first few questions on a daunting exam, and having no idea what any of the answers are?

That feeling is marked by a great deal of stress. And the practice of test-taking is, in itself, a great source of stress in the lives of myself and so many other college students right now. Therefore, I have outlined 7 study habits (in order of importance) with the aim of achieving perfect grades and ultimately reducing stress levels. Where to begin?

Habit 1: Write a to-do list every day.

The first habit that you need to start getting into if you want to succeed in school is prioritization. Write down everything that you need to do for the day on a sticky note or whiteboard. This helps to provide you with a sense of focus and structure.

Habit 2: Don’t cram.

That’s right, don’t cram. It’s futile and never works, so always begin studying days and weeks in advance.

Habit 3: Remove distractions.

If I failed a test, I’d be lying to myself if I said that I studied “as much as I could.” Really, that’s a simple rationalization for how much I didn’t study.

99 times out of 100, the reason you perform poorly on an exam has nothing to do with the difficulty level of the class, the professor who teaches the class, or even your own work ethic. The main culprit in this scenario is the level of distractibility at the time you were attempting to study for the recently-failed exam.

Distractions are the biggest problems you face in school because they consume large portions of time that could otherwise be spent growing your knowledge. For instance, you could be intensely focused on rereading a chapter in your Anthropology textbook, but all of a sudden you’re notified of a new video in your subscription feed on YouTube. And there goes 15 precious minutes of your day.

To maximize your chances of academic success, you need to eliminate as many distractions as possible. Avoid social media and TURN OFF your phone. If you feel the need to take breaks, do so intermittently.

Habit 4: Don’t study passively. Study ACTIVELY.

This habit is essential if you want to achieve perfect grades. While studying, you need to extract meaning from the material, utilizing as many brain areas as possible that are involved in both memory and cognition. You cannot, for example, passively flip a few flashcards and expect to fully memorize all of the terminology. Real memorization requires a key understanding of the terminology rather than just a familiarity with it. Recall, don’t recognize.

Habit 5: Compose your own exam questions WITH examples.

So how do you “study actively” if you can’t just sit back and flip flashcards? In this college student’s humble opinion, the best method of active studying is to compose test questions that you believe are the most likely to appear on an exam, answer each of them in your own words, and provide them with examples. Rather than just copy definitions straight from the textbook, put your own spin on the terminology while also gathering information from alternative resources such as YouTube, a tutor, and your professor.

Habit 6: Take it one step at a time.

The RAM of a computer is not without its limits. When it’s trying to run too many programs at once, the CPU starts slowing down and sometimes stops working altogether. Your brain functions in the same way.

When you have five upcoming exams in the same week, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. However, if you spend too much time worrying about everything that you need to get done, you risk getting absolutely nothing done. I know firsthand what that’s like. I would look at my to-do list for the day and think there was no conceivable chance that I could get everything done in time. I would become stressed about not studying enough, and as a result not study at all.

The main takeaway from this habit is not to fall prey to ‘analysis paralysis,’ a state-of-mind characterized by the persistent need to overthink. Sufferers of analysis paralysis fixate on what ostensibly can and cannot go wrong, and they’ll think about a problem so much that they miss the opportunity solve it. By now you can probably understand why this manner of thinking isn’t conducive to academic success: if you try to do too much at once, you won’t get nearly enough done in the long run. So take it one step at a time.

Habit 7: Believe in yourself.

This seventh habit might sound cliché, but it’s so very true: have faith in yourself. Research indicates that when students believe they are going to fail their upcoming exams, they do exactly that. They fail. It all comes back to the idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy in that our expectations of future events are what cause them to manifest in reality. For example, if Sandra believes that her upcoming chemistry exam will be impossible to pass, she might not even bother studying for it. Why should she? She’s going to fail it anyway.

So what does Sandra do? She doesn’t study, and thus she fails the exam. However, if she convinced herself that she was more than capable of passing the exam, she might have been motivated to make an effort, brushing up on old material, reviewing concepts, and increasing her chances of getting a better grade. Therefore, 99.99% of the battle ISN’T studying to get the A, but rather BELIEVING that you’ve already got the A. Furthermore, even if you study vigorously and don’t receive the grade that you wanted, you can at least take comfort in knowing that you didn’t just give up on the off chance that you might have failed.

Side notes:

– Refrain from using Adderall or other high-powered stimulants to study. As much of an added boost that stimulant drugs can provide, the risks for dependency and addiction aren’t worth it.

– Get a good night’s rest after a long study session, as it helps your brain sort through newly learned material and facilitates the formation of long-term memories. In addition, avoid drinking booze before bed. Alcohol decreases the quality of deep sleep and thus disrupts the learning process.

– Failed a test? Too bad… try again next time!

– Understand that your test-taking abilities do not reflect who you are as a person. You have much more to show for yourself than a few letter grades.

And that’s it—the 7 habits for academic success. Do you practice any of these habits?

How to Quickly Recover From a Cold

Anyone who enjoys being sick, raise your hands!

No one?

Everybody hates being sick. For me, the worst part about being sick is not the runny nose or the incessant coughing, but that moment where I first feel the tickle in the back of my throat and think to myself, “There goes the next week.” Basically, on the long list of life’s inconveniences, sickness is near the top.

In addition to being a massive inconvenience, sickness is time-consuming. So time-consuming, in fact, that the economic cost of lost productivity due to the common cold is estimated to be about $25 billion when accounting for workplace absenteeism and other factors (Bramley et al., 2002). Also, what is considered the “common cold” is actually no different from the hundreds of respiratory viruses that cause similar symptoms, so we may never see a comprehensive cure in our lifetimes (Friedman, 2016). Therefore, I am writing this article to propose an effective remedy to the common cold, and hopefully reduce those billions of dollars in lost productivity.

The remedy I am proposing is the heavy consumption of vitamin C. The brand I buy is Emergen-C, which you can find at your local grocery store. While marketed as a dietary supplement that contains essential nutrients for growth and repair, Emergen-C is also an efficient cold remedy because it boosts immune system functioning. The trick is to dump 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C into a glass of water, rapidly drink it all, and then wait about a day or two for symptoms to lessen in their intensity.

Before jumping to any conclusions, it’s important to note that remedying the common cold by consuming large quantities of vitamin C is not supported by research. The idea was initially conceived by the work of Linus Pauling, who won the Nobel Prize in 1970 for his book about cold prevention. Since then, there has been little, if any, conclusive evidence that supports his thesis… or has there?

No, vitamin C definitely does not cure the common cold. It’s not open to debate anymore. Saying that you can kill a cold by drinking a few vitamins would be the same thing as saying that vaccinations cause autism, a myth that has been consistently disproven. However, vitamin C can buffer your immune system to where your cold doesn’t last quite as long.

A quick and successful recovery from a cold via vitamin C consumption is contingent on three factors: the relative strength of your immune system, your age, and the complex interactions vitamin C has with other nutrients that may affect how your immune system responds to the virus.

The first reason that vitamin C has never been elucidated as an acceptable cold remedy is because everyone’s immune system is different. It could be that participants in the studies had weak or poorly functioning immune systems, so the vitamin C had no statistically significant effects on them. Age is an important factor to consider as well because people’s immune systems become weaker as they grow older. Middle-aged or elderly people may not benefit from the effects of vitamin C in the same way that children or adolescents do. Lastly, evidence is inconclusive because until now, researchers have only examined the effects of vitamin C on the immune system and nothing else. It might be the interactions that vitamin C has with other nutrients, and not the vitamin C itself, that are most effective in combating the common cold. Keeping these factors in mind, Emergen-C is perhaps your best bet for a quick recovery in the event that you’re coming down with something.

Because vitamin C hasn’t yet been endorsed by researchers as a cold remedy, I can’t guarantee that it will work for you. If anything, a good night’s sleep goes a much longer way in getting you to recover the fastest. However, I can at least say that, anecdotally, Emergen-C works wonders when you consume it soon after you start feeling sick, and this is again dependent on the strength of your immune system, your age, and your body’s response to the vitamins.

As far as influenza goes, a virus that is about 100 times worse than the common cold, get your annual flu shot. The flu is constantly evolving, and there are countless different strains of Influenzas A, B, and C, so it’s always good to plan for it accordingly. If you are unlucky enough to become infected by the flu anyway, take your recommended dosage of Tamiflu for a chance of cutting the duration of the sickness in half.

So, feeling that tickle in your throat right about now? Then go out, buy Emergen-C, drink up, and be amazed.

 

References

Friedman, L. F. (2016, January 26). No cure for the common cold exists – but scientists have a hunch about what might work. Retrieved November 23, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/cure-for-the-cold-2016-1

 

TJ, B., D, L., & M, S. (2002, September). Productivity losses related to the common cold. Retrieved November 23, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12227674

“Hacksaw Ridge” Helped Me Find Faith

“With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to want to put a little bit of it back together.”

Desmond Doss, Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Sometimes you see a movie that profoundly impacts your life, changing the way you view the world and teaching you a little something about yourself. The Rocky films taught me that even the underdog can triumph in the face of adversity, while The Lord of the Rings trilogy taught me about the necessity of social support in the long and perilous journeys we take to reach our goals.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016) taught me a truth that I’d overlooked this whole time.

Until now, I figured the filmmaking medium had nothing else to offer in terms of substance, much less in terms of violence. I thought I had seen it all, from arms and limbs getting blown off to intestines getting ripped out. Of course, violence isn’t a rare commodity in films these days, but it almost never means anything. On the other hand, Mel Gibson’s latest war drama displays its violent imagery in such a way that leaves you particularly on-edge, obscuring the distinction between what’s real and what’s fictional.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Hacksaw Ridge, this biographical World War II film follows the story of Desmond Doss, a man who became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor for his awe-inspiring courage in the line of battle. The beautiful thing about Hacksaw Ridge is that it is more the exception than it is the rule: Desmond Doss never picked up a weapon once, and saved 75 men. It’s an important story to be told, but even more importantly it’s a movie that everyone should see at least once in their lifetimes.

What set Hacksaw Ridge apart so drastically from every other war film I’ve seen is that it disturbed in a way that not even Saving Private Ryan could pull off, and Saving Private Ryan is known for triggering PTSD episodes in actual war veterans who fought on Omaha Beach. It didn’t help that the theater I was in had the sound jacked up to what seemed like 100 decibels.

In the film Black Hawk Down, another fantastic war film by Ridley Scott that I urge everyone to see, the character named “Hoot” (played by Eric Bana), says “Once that first bullet goes past your head, politics and all that shit just goes right out the window.” And he’s right. Whatever political quarrels that are responsible for the battle you find yourself a part of seize to matter once it starts raining gunfire, and Hacksaw Ridge illustrates this unsettling maxim quite well. The first 75 minutes of the film could best be described as a standard PG-13 tearjerker, taking time to establish Desmond as a man who stands by his principles without question. However, the second half hits you like a truck: men are alarmingly incinerated alive, stabbed, blown up, ripped to shreds, and torn apart. The shock of it all is so immobilizing that you’d almost forget what’s happening.

If the phrase “Hell on Earth” were taken literally, then Hacksaw Ridge is about as close as you could get to it, and in that respect Gibson conveys his overall message effectively. This message, which no other director (not even Spielberg) has been able to articulate enough, is that war is a circumstance that you never want to find yourself in. It’s a brutal, bloody, disgusting, disorienting, confusing, and chaotic mess of events in which your closest friends can indiscriminately and quite frustratingly, die in the blink of an eye. As much of a knack for violence that Gibson has, Hacksaw Ridge makes it perfectly clear that you should be averted, and not attracted, to war.

Ultimately, it’s Desmond’s altruism and refusal to take a life that counterbalances Gibson’s horrifying depiction of the chaos on the Pacific Theatre. I walked away from the film with a deeper appreciation for the heroes that have fought for our country, and the sacrifices they have made to bestow the freedoms and liberties that I benefit from every day. At the same time, I couldn’t help but feel selfish, pondering why it had to take a movie for me to really appreciate the people who’ve put their lives on the line. Now, every time I see an American flag, I always commemorate their fortitude and most of all, their bravery.

Hacksaw Ridge also made me rethink my current religious stance. Before, I always considered myself close-minded to the prospect of faith, but then I saw what faith can do for people: it can save their lives. I figured, “Well, if it was Desmond’s belief system that saved these 75 men, then obviously religion can’t be all that bad.” Therefore, I no longer treat religion as a glorified, money-making institution, but rather as a force for good in the world. In addition, while I was deeply agitated by the film’s abominable spin on violence, I at least took solace in knowing that there is an intrinsic decency in man that transcends even the worst atrocities that he is capable of committing.

I want to say that Hacksaw Ridge is a 100% accurate portrayal of war, but really, it isn’t. Indeed, the film does a stellar job at giving the audience a clear picture of war, but at the end of the day it is still “just a film.” Real war is much worse than what is depicted in movies, and we can all say that we know what it’s like, but we don’t—we can’t. We would need to have fought on the front lines ourselves to authentically empathize with the trauma our heroes have suffered through.   

Again, I encourage you to see Hacksaw Ridge if you haven’t already. I can understand why the film isn’t for everyone, as the war sequences were too much for even me to stomach, yet it exemplifies a kind of richness that’s hard to find in media. And that, in itself, is the mark of a fantastic film.

Skyrim: Why it’s Still the Best Open World RPG

“Let me guess. Someone stole your sweetroll!”

 – Guard, Skyrim

No other game has been able to live up to the same heights as Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011), with its deep immersion, customization, and exploration elements that even today’s open world RPGs have trouble emulating with complete accuracy. To be clear, Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015) comes close—very close. I commended Witcher 3 for its cutting edge approach to storytelling, impressive graphical fidelity, multifaceted characters, dynamic world, and overall wealth of content. Hearts of Stone (2015) and Blood and Wine (2016), the two expansions to Witcher 3, actually added new meaning to the term “videogame expansion,” setting the bar high for story-based DLC and adding on to what was already a gigantic game. And yet, even 5 years later, Skyrim still outcompetes CD Projekt Red’s masterpiece.

It’s no secret that I have strong feelings for Skyrim (that makes it sound like I’m romantically attracted to the game). I invested about 300 hours into the Xbox 360 version, which might not seem like a lot in the context of how massive the game truly is, and purchased Skyrim Special Edition on a Black Friday sale. Essentially, Skyrim is so special to me because I keep crawling back to it after all these years. It possesses an intrinsic charm that the Witcher series, GTA V, and Fallout 4 ostensibly cannot recreate. The all-important question is, what does it get right?

The first and perhaps most important thing that Skyrim gets right is its novelty factor. Part of the reason that I was disappointed by Fallout 4 so much is that I was always pitted against the other factions when I didn’t want to be. If you sided with the Minute Men, then you couldn’t play through the Brotherhood of Steel quests, and you would miss out on all of that content. In Skyrim, on the other hand, you are able to play through all faction questlines at your discretion, and you don’t have to worry about making enemies. Furthermore, there is an insane amount of caves and dungeons to explore, as well as quests that you just accidentally stumble upon while straying off the beaten path. There are even quests that, to this day, I haven’t played.

The second thing that Skyrim gets right is its level of customization and personalization.

Customization wise, the game gives me the freedom to play whoever and whatever I want, a trademark of Bethesda’s approach to immersion. I typically enjoy playing as an anti-hero in Skyrim; I can murder an entire town of innocent NPCs yet at the same time not have to feel guilty about it since I’ve just saved the world from total annihilation. I am also free to traverse the map as a vampire-werewolf hybrid, and later return home to my dog and two kids after a long day of questing, looting, and exploring.

Personalization wise, many experiences in the game feel non-scripted, as though they were designed for me and no one else. For instance, I can slaughter all the guards in Whiterun, and if I’m feeling regretful afterwards, I can reload the save and pretend like it never happened. I can drag around battered corpses and toss them into the nearby river to watch them drift away. I can pickpocket lords and jarls and hope they won’t notice. I can defy the laws of gravity by riding my horse down an incredibly steep mountain. I can assassinate the High King of Skyrim and then parade around with his clothes in public. I can stick a bucket onto the Riverwood Trader’s head and steal everything in his shop. Then, if I become over-encumbered, I can drop dozens of pounds of useless junk in the middle of the road. I can do all of those things because the game simply lets me, and it always ends up feeling like an experience that was handcrafted for my personal enjoyment.

The third thing that Skyrim gets right is its MUSIC. Skyrim simply wouldn’t be the game that it is without Jeremy Soule’s epic, emotionally charged score. Every piece not only complements the game’s atmosphere, it enhances the atmosphere altogether, making you feel like this is your story that you are writing as you go along. The music also tells a story in itself. For instance, The Streets of Whiterun communicates the quiescence of the town of Whiterun, while the heart-pounding Watch the Skies communicates the fast-paced nature of a dragon attack. My favorite pieces are The Jerall Mountains, Distant Horizons, Dawn, and Aurora. Soule really knows how to compose an unforgettable soundtrack.

I could go on forever about how amazing The Elder Scrolls V is, continuing with its superb leveling system, well-written quests (sometimes), and satisfying combat mechanics. However, I’d have to admit to a bias with respect to the game’s actual quality. It is not without its faults; some quests, at least back in the day, were bugged and thus could not be turned in. Also, companions annoyingly block your path, the same six or seven voice actors are used for virtually every NPC on the map, and the game can generally become repetitive after enough playthroughs. Nonetheless, Skyrim remains at the top of my list, and it may be awhile before it loses its spot. You could argue that my fondness for the game is a function of my nostalgia, since a lot of media always seems better than at the time I first consumed it.

What it all comes down to is the view. Even though Skyrim is a virtual world with no physical basis in reality, it brings out the nature lover in me. Sometimes, the best parts of the game are emerging from a cave that I’ve been stuck in for hours, and taking in the awe-inspiring view of the vast, snowy landscape (and then getting attacked by a dragon to ruin the moment). It truly makes me glad to be alive to experience such profound beauty, even if it is, at the end of the day, just a video game.

Sadly, Skyrim will never be as special as when I first played it—I know that. However, it will always have a special place in my heart for opening me up to a world with so many things to discover and memories to make.